Sunday, April 27, 2014

LGBT Town Hall On Houston ERO

Photo: Awesome LGBT advocates and allies speaking up in support of the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance with City Council Member Michael Kubosh. Michael Kubosh's campaign slogan during the 2013 election cycle was 'Fighting For You', and he used it along with being the vocal leader of the coalition that took down the hated red-light camera ordinance to vault to a Houston City Council at large seat. 

With the release of the Houston Equal Rights Amendment by Mayor Annise Parker, the push by the Houston LGBT community to get it passed and then pivot to defend it against a possible repeal referendum spearheaded by our right wing haters, one of the things we weren't sure of as a community was whether Councilmember Kubosh would fight for our segment of the community and vote for its passage.  

So there were eyebrows raised by many including myself in the Houston LGBT ranks when Kubosh decided to hold his first town hall as an elected council member in the gayborhood.about the HERO. 

I joined the assembled crowd Saturday afternoon at Haven's Center of thirty people for the event moderated by Jenifer Rene Pool to ask questions about where he stood on this issue.

Over the next two hours, Councilman Kubosh not only told his personal stories about his father and his encounters with Jim Crow growing up in SE Texas, he listened as myself and many of the people and community LGBT leaders in attendance told their personal stories about the discrimination they had faced and urged him to vote to pass the HERO.  

Those of us in attendance made the points about why it was necessary to protect our human rights.  We made the facts based case why it would be a win-win to pass the HERO and expand human rights for us and all the citizens of Houston.  We debunked the lies of the opponents.   We pointed out how passage of the HERO would spur economic development but say to Texas, the nation, and the world that we value ALL Houstonians.   

When I got the chance to speak, I discussed the Izza Lopez and Tyjanae Moore cases as examples of the anti-trans discrimination in town.  Formed councilmember Jolanda Jones talked about the experience of the  former trans intern on her staff and the bathroom drama she experienced at City Hall.   I also pointed out that if Houston still wanted to make its dream of hosting an Olympic Games a reality, with the IOC moving to prevent future Sochi situations and require all candidate cities to have human rights legislation in place, might be a great idea to pass the HERO now.

We also pointed out that Houston was embarrassingly behind on this issue of expanding our non-discrimination ordinance to cover gender identity and expression and sexual orientation, and many of the cities that we compete with have it.     

It was an interesting two hours, and with what is sure to be a contentious public hearing on Wednesday at City Hall, the political fun is just getting started as the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance moves to a vote next month.

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